So, I’ve decided to breathe some new life into this page, especially because I may or may not be releasing my first book of poetry this month (eeeee!!).
A lot has changed since that happy, optimistic last post from almost a year ago. I’m still savoring those happy moments, but things are a little tougher right now. My anxiety disorder has flared up and it’s been a struggle. Also that “best friend in the world” that I was fortunate enough to go to New Orleans with has since uh, how can I say this nicely, switched priorities. She’s no longer around or really available to talk to. Add 4 funerals in a year on top of that and you’re got a bit of a bumpy road.
I’m trying to deal though, the best way I can, and often that means just moving forward. I can only take it a day at a time, despite what my anxiety would often have me believe, so this is me doing that.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell my story, and why I felt such a need to tell it, for at least a year now. Nothing really seemed to work or feel right. At least until a certain concert I went to that inexplicably sparked something in my mind that caused the pieces to fall into place. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop writing. I’d been reminded of my roots, of the ways in which my voice is strongest, and it finally felt right, and safe, to say what I needed to.
In telling the story, I wasn’t sure what I hoped to accomplish. I just knew that it needed to come out, one way or another. A couple of nights ago, I finished the first draft of that story and I was surprised to feel not just nervous that people would actually be reading it soon, but also an overwhelming sense of peace. Peace and confidence and serenity that I haven’t felt in almost 5 years.
It will be 5 years since the assault happened next month. Every year I’ve done something on or around the university to take back my power of that day and try to prevent myself from succumbing to the painful memories that can sometimes surface. Last year, I forgot there was an anniversary at all, something I considered, and still do, a victory in and of itself.
This year it seems the anniversary will bring about a piece of work written in my blood and tears. It’s honestly probably the piece I’m most proud of to date. More importantly, writing it brought closure. I can’t tell you what it means to finally feel like I can close the door behind me on this chapter in my life when for years I didn’t think it would be possible to go more than a day without thinking about it, hurting from it.
But that’s what happened. When I came to the end of the word document that held everything I’d gone through…I felt closure. I felt like I can finally move on.
I’ve been wondering at times what the purpose in my coming to Texas was when I’m just going back home to Indy in March, but now I think I know. I needed this. I needed to get away from all of the monsters that held me hostage before, come to a new, untainted environment, and find my voice again.
And I did. I found it, and I’m proud of it, and I’m so incredibly happy that as some sort of miraculous bonus, I’ve finally found closure. I can finally go home feeling happier and lighter than I have in years, and I am so grateful and excited for this next chapter.
After living in Texas since June 1, 2017, I’ve decided to go back to Indiana. It hasn’t been an easy choice at all. I love Austin a lot. I feel like I can breathe here and I’ve been really happy here and am proud of myself for making a life here. I’ve also had the chance to learn a lot about myself since I moved, and one thing that I learned is that my family and friends mean more to me than I realized.
I love it here, but I feel like I’m missing a limb, like a huge chunk of myself is just absent. It took me a little while to come to the realization that I can live with an Austin-shaped hole in my life (as long as I still get to visit!), but I can’t live with a family/friend-shaped hole.
It turns out though, that even while I feel like this is right decision in my gut, I’m still apprehensive. I left Indiana at a time when I was suffocating and could barely hold myself up. The few months I spent before I left at my brother’s house helped for sure, but the time before that, in the apartment by myself, I was followed constantly by a storm cloud that I thought would eventually drown me.
So, now I find myself going back and a small, irrational part of me is scared. I’m worried that the anxiety and crippling depression I left behind is waiting for me, a 70-foot dragon waiting at the state line just daring me to cross.
It scares me. I’m worried I won’t be able to breathe there. I’m worried the depression will come back when I cross back into Indy’s borders, like shrugging on an old heavy coat. I’m afraid everything will be the same.
But I also know that this is something I need to do. That while I’m safe here in Austin, I need to face the demons and dragons I left behind to show that I really have grown. Because the fact is, things won’t be the same in Indy when I get back, simply because I’M not the same.
So, March 2018, I face the dragon.
(and who knows, maybe it’ll end up looking like this guy)
I’ve been dealing with depression off and on since the 8th grade. At least, that’s the first instance of it that I can remember. It’s the first time I recall feeling so sad that nothing could save me, but also feeling so many things that my skin couldn’t hold them in. The only thing that kept my head above water was music. That was the year I started listening to Janet and Velvet Rope was the first album that I felt touch my heart and calm it.
Over the years I’ve found various ways to deal when those feelings came up again. Music has always been a go to, with just the voices of certain artists being able to soothe the hurt like a balm. There was years of dance of course, which saved me over and over again. And then there were the countless times that I ignored it.
I would pretend I was fine or blame it on a circumstance, thinking that if only I could fix this one aspect of my life, I would feel okay again.
The latest was leaving Indiana. A large part of it was a life long dream, yes. But part of it was also to get away from the suffocating depression I was experiencing. Surely being in a new place, with new air, and new people, would make it easier, though I never expected it to go away altogether.
I guess I just also didn’t expect it to still be so present. I underestimated its ability to knock me on my ass no matter where I am geographically or not matter how well I’m progressing in my life.
It might sound stupidly obvious to some of you, but it took my being 1,000 miles away from home to realize that the depression is in me. It’s not something I can ever run away from. Running away isn’t going to be anything but a temporary solution and for some reason that gives me so much comfort.
Maybe it’s because now I know that I’m not doing anything wrong. That it isn’t the choices I’ve made in life or the abundance or lack of success in various parts of my life. It’s a chemical glitch that will always be there. And there’s a certain peace I’ve gained from realizing that and knowing that now, all I need to do is learn to live with it when it shows up, to never listen to its lies, and to let it rest when it’s gone.
Its not always going to be easy, I mean hell this week alone has been gut wrenching and painful in itself, but my heart is at peace because I know it will pass. And in the meantime, I’ll bury myself in stories and poems and music that keeps me above water.
Stumbling through the streets of Austin,
music drunk on the sounds of Halsey,
eyes bright but nobody’s watching, lost
but found on this strange road I’m walking
alone, a thousand miles behind
me, nothing to tie me down, hold me.
So, I run this short distance full speed
ahead, focused, and fighting for more
days like this, where my head is quiet
and my heart is filled with music and
floods of words, begging to be let out.
So, I’ve written little poems basically for as long as I’ve been writing, but I’ve never really thought much of it. Poetry was never a real career path to me, never had a future, and besides, maybe it’s terrible anyways. Even still, lately, since a certain concert last week, I’ve found myself scribbling those lines down again, jotting notes and counting syllables. I dunno, maybe it’s terrible and maybe there’s something to it. There are a few projects I’ve had in the back of my mind for quite a while now but haven’t been able to find a medium that feels right for them. But maybe…maybe I just did? Maybe I need to take the chance that it’s awful and just write it anyways and see where it takes me? Only one way to know.
I feel too much. I always have. It’s hard to describe it but it’s like this ball of emotion that sits in my chest, demanding my attention, demanding that I do something to sate it.
I’ve tried so many things to get rid of it; ignoring myself, self care techniques, even changing my life to counteract it. But it follows me everywhere. It followed me 1,000 miles to TX. There’s no escaping it.
And then, out of no where, it hit me. This is the same feeling I used to have as a kid and a teenager. But I didn’t remember it torturing me like it does now, and I realized that’s because I had an outlet for it. I poured that over abundance of feelings and passion into dance. It kept me going, it kept me alive.
Since I stopped dancing, a part of me has felt lost, ungrounded. Since I stopped dancing, I felt that ball of emotion in my chest trying to claw its way out, and I tried to make it go away. Whatever passion I had as a kid with dance, I thought was gone, forever. I thought I’d lost my motivation, my purpose for life.
Then it hit me tonight. This ball of feeling, this screaming vortex of emotion, IS my motivation. It IS that burning ball of passion that used to drive me as a kid. And I do have an outlet for it, I just haven’t been using it.
Because when I write, that knot disintegrates. It spills out of me onto the page, and I’m able to use it to write what I need to say and then leave it behind. Writing keeps me alive, and my feelings have been telling me this whole damn time when I need to do it, when I most need that outlet, and I haven’t been listening.
But here, alone, in TX, away from everything I know and love, I can hear it so clearly. And I can use it again to light a fire under what I love and reignite my life and mind.
I can’t believe it took me so long to figure this out, but I’m really fucking glad I did. THIS is what I came here for, to figure out what I wasn’t seeing about myself when I was comfortable and in a familiar place.
So there are a couple of things I’ve learned this week or am in the process of learning…
1. Drivers in Austin are dicks. Seriously, the worst.
2. It is the weirdest feeling to me to live in a place where people voluntarily go to visit. Like on vacation and stuff. They come here. On purpose. I run into tourists constantly, especially while driving for Lyft and it still boggles my mind. No one goes to Indiana for vacation. They go to visit family or for a job or some other random reason. Other than that, no one is planning their dream vacation and saving their money to go to Indiana. So that’s definitely an adjustment.
3. Now that filming has finished up, I’m back to a “normal” type of schedule. Except I’m in a new city and have yet to actually establish a standard for normal. So that’s the biggest thing I’ve been learning, how to meet new people, deciding where I want to work and what schedule would be best, which meet ups I’d like to join, etc. I’m basically figuring out how to build a life from scratch, which is both intimidating and really exciting. I have the freedom right now to form a life that I actually enjoy and it’s an opportunity a lot of people don’t get in their lives. So, I’m trying to take advantage of it and make myself proud.
When someone finds out I’m moving, they often ask me “why” or “what’s in Texas?” And I haven’t been able to give much of an answer outside of “it’s not Indiana” or “I’ve always wanted to live somewhere else.”
The closer the move gets too, I find myself checking and double checking my reasons for wanting to go so badly. It isn’t like being in a new state, in a new city, is going to solve my depression. It isn’t like it’ll be easy or that I know that many people there, or all of my Trump anxieties will disappear. So why do it? What am I hoping to find there that I haven’t been able to get here?
The answer is community. A support system of some sort. Friends. Human connections that have evaded me in so many ways in the life I live in Indiana.
The times in my life when I have been the happiest and the most fulfilled, besides when writing of course, were times when I belonged to a group or had a small network of friends. When I was part of a dance company. When I was a youth at IYG after I came out. When I accidentally stumbled upon two great people who eventually became close friends. When I’m surrounded by friends and family at my second family’s house. When I was unofficially adopted into a big loud family that loved me as much as I loved them.
People come and go, I know that as well as anyone, and because I know it so well, I have a hard time trusting people. For instance, I have friends in TX, but already I’m afraid of burdening them, of wanting to hang out too much or saying the wrong thing or just not being good enough in general. I’m already anticipating the day when our friendship ends. I’m already anticipating the day I form a new group of friends I haven’t met yet that then will at some point also dissolve and leave me right back where I started. By myself.
I’ve done everything in power over the past 3 years to make sure I can survive with only myself to count on. Now I know I can. But I also know that being that alone, that lonely, changes something in a person. We are solitary creatures by nature. We, I, need to feel like I have support and a sense of belonging to thrive.
So that’s what I’m looking for. Maybe I’ll find it, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ve been alone too long already and broke the part of me that used to relate to people and therefore will have to live like this forever. I’m not gonna lie to you, I don’t know if that’s something I can do. But there’s no reason to worry about that yet.
I had three choices when I woke up this morning. I could not write at all. I could write something fluffy and pretend to feel better than I do today. Or..I could tell the truth.
In most cases in my life, I prefer the truth above all else, no matter how awful. But that doesn’t mean that anyone else cares about MY truth, especially when it’s steeped in depression. My first instinct this morning was to keep it to myself. Except, that’s what I’ve been doing, for years, and it isn’t working. So maybe being open about it will help, at the very least, be different than keeping it in.
The truth is, today is hard. Despite some crazy, but interesting and almost fun, dreams, I woke up in a dark place. Anxiety about moving ruminated in my mind and a depression settled over me so heavily, I didn’t want to move.
My first thought was, i don’t want to move to TX. Not because I don’t want to live there, I do, but because I’m going to have to have roommates, which will require me to interact with people and be around them a million times more than I do now. While I know in my head that this is actually a good thing, something I need, I wasn’t feeling it this morning.
Now some people might be concerned at those thoughts. “Are you having second thoughts on moving?” “Are you going to stay?” “Are you afraid it’s not really want you want?” No. To all 3, no. And here’s why….
I know myself well enough by now to, usually, know when it’s the depression talking. And that was confirmed when I realized that my thought process this morning wasn’t just “I don’t want to move apts,” it was also “I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere or live anywhere or talk to anyone.” So yeah, bit of a red flag.
For awhile I was starting to feel better and a lot of the time I still do, but every once in awhile the lingering black cloud will make an appearance and I’ll find myself going through the motions of a normal human.
So, I dunno what I hope to accomplish with this, other than to pull back the veil a little and be more open about what’s really going on, be it for myself or for others who might feel similarly. I’m not going to give up, no matter how awful it feels today, but instead will try to counteract the sad by listening to comedy or getting lost in a book. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.
Planning to move 1,000 miles again is hard.
Planning to move 1,000 miles away with depression riding piggy back style on your shoulders sometimes feels impossible.
I’m currently planning to move from Indianapolis to Austin, TX and my emotions are constantly oscillating from productive, motivated, and excited, to so overwhelmed I want to sit in my closet until they kick me out of my apartment at the end of my lease.
My biggest fear is that I’ll make this huge change, go on this huge journey, and nothing will be any different. I’m scared I won’t find any friends or make any connections, and I’ll be left just as alone and isolated as I feel here. And I’m scared of what would happen to me if that fear was realized.
Luckily, thanks to one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Jenny Lawson, I know that DEPRESSION LIES. So I’m doing what I can to keep my head above water and not let the bad thoughts win.
It may seem silly, and of course everyone is different in how they handle self-care, but here are some of the things I do when I feel like the darkness creeping in and need to push through it for just one more day:
1. I listen to or watch stand up comedy. – It’s impossible to stay in a bad mood while laughing hysterically….some of my favorites are Kevin Hart, Jen Kirkman, Sarah Colonna, and Jim Gaffigan.
2. I read things by people who understand what I’m going through. – My go-to books on anything mental health related that can also make me smile are Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson and Agorafabulous, by Sara Benincasa.
3. I do something that makes me smile. – This is a little more broad and can be anything from going to see the new Fantastic Beasts movie to exercising my petty side and putting “Love Trumps Hate” notes in all of the Ann Coulter books at Barnes and Noble.
4. I reach out. – I’m still not very good at this one. Depression tells you that you’re not good enough or important enough to talk to others. It makes you think no one cares and tells you that you’re burdening these “normal” people with your messed up brain. But that isn’t the case. There are people out there, that genuinely care about you and want to help you through what you’re dealing with. I am lucky enough to have two people who know exactly what I’m going through. I can talk to them about my darkest thoughts or my silliest ideas, and they know they can do the same with me.
5. I cuddle with a dog or one of my two cats. – Because, I mean, come on. They’re fluffy AF.